Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a semi-daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.


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The Blog for Sunday, October 12, 2008

RPOFers runnin' for cover, "finger-pointing" begins

    "John McCain's plunging poll numbers in Florida have top Republicans second-guessing and starting to distance themselves from the campaign." The wheels are coming off the (mythical) mighty RPOFer machine
    ''There are a lot of folks who have never been in a foxhole before and are clearly nervous,'' said Brian Ballard, a major McCain fundraiser. "There is some finger-pointing going on a little bit too soon.''

    Even Gov. Charlie Crist, who helped deliver Florida for McCain during the primary, said he will spend the final weeks before Election Day minding the state's weak economy rather than campaigning for the Arizona senator.

    ''When I have time to help, I'll try to do that,'' Crist said last week, after he flew around the state with McCain running mate Sarah Palin. Saturday, he skipped a McCain football rally and instead went to Disney World.

    Once considered a potential running mate, Crist had pledged to do all he could for McCain and spent several days this summer campaigning for the Republican nominee in and outside Florida. He faults the tough economic times for McCain's difficult time in Florida, where he trails rival Barack Obama by about 5 percentage points in the polls.

    No Republican has won the White House in modern times without carrying Florida. The last to lose the state was McCain's former colleague, Sen. Bob Dole, in 1996. Some Republicans say the state party hasn't done enough, while others blame McCain's national campaign.
    You know the RPOFers are hiding under the sheets when reporters resort to Roger Stone for a quote. Stone, a "'stone-cold loser'", "hater", "Nixon-era dirty trickster", sexual deviant, as well as
    a longtime McCain supporter, said the state party and the national campaign bear almost equal blame.

    ''This effort lacks coordination and a cooperative spirit and it's showing,'' Stone said. ``But it's more than mechanics. The campaign has no consistent message.''
    "Democrats say they expect the race to tighten, despite their cash advantage. And economic problems aside, Republican spending is also lower in Florida than in 2004 because there's no Jeb Bush determined to deliver Florida for his brother."
    All of this comes at a time when the party financial reports show that in the last quarter GOP officials claimed $500,000 in credit card expenses and $300,000 for chartered planes.

    Jim Greer, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, said the party's spending isn't unusual for election time. Greer chartered a private jet last week to appear at a Sarah Palin rally after he was told there was no room on the campaign plane.

    That came just after the St. Petersburg Times reported details about a strategy meeting between McCain's Florida staff and GOP officials and Greer was quoted as saying he was just trying ''to make sure everything was done right'' by the McCain campaign.

    McCain staffers say the meeting was routine and many Republicans viewed the leak of the meeting as blame-shifting by Greer, especially after he criticized Palin in the New York Times.
    Much more here: "Florida Republicans cast blame as McCain trails in polls". See also "How much can Crist do to help McCain?": "As Republican hopes appear to be fading nationally, Gov. Charlie Crist stands out as one of the country’s most popular GOP officials. But it’s not clear how much he can do, or is willing to do, to help presidential candidate John McCain win in Florida."

    Stop the no-match madness

    The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board: "Florida could be watching a disaster unfolding in slow motion. To avoid that, Gov. Charlie Crist and Browning have only one viable option: They should suspend enforcement of the No Match, No Vote law until after the Nov. 4 election." "'No Match, No Vote'". Remember,

    The law at issue bars any Florida citizen from becoming registered to vote and voting with a regular ballot if the state cannot validate the applicant's driver's license number or the last four digits of the applicant's Social Security number, no matter how much identification the voter brings to the polls on Election Day. The process starts with an attempt to "match" voter information to other government databases, an error-prone exercise that often fails. For example, the Social Security Administration reports a 46% failure rate when trying to match voter registration applications. State officials admitted in a recent challenge to the law, Florida NAACP v. Browning, that typographical errors by election workers are responsible for most of the failures.

    If the state cannot match the voter registration records, many eligible voters who submit registration applications before the October 6th deadline to register may not be notified of the matching failure until Election Day, when they appear at the polls to vote. There, they will be forced to cast a provisional ballot, and that provisional ballot will only be counted if the voter submits a photocopy of his or her driver's license or Social Security card within 48 hours after the election, even if they already showed their driver's license at the polls.
    "Florida To Enforce Restrictive No-Match No-Vote".

    Voting to begin

    "Secretary of State Kurt Browning told county elections supervisors Friday morning that Florida is in good shape for the start of early voting and the general election."

    Registration drives have swelled Florida's voter rolls by more than 800,000 this year through September, with a net advantage going to Democrats.

    Final numbers won't be out from the state until next week, but available figures show of those who have registered to vote this year, 360,478 were Democrats, 190,137 were Republican and 253,294 were independent or had no party affiliation.
    "Browning: Fla. ready for early voting". Actually,
    the net gain for Democrats is even bigger. Including party switchers and voters dropped from the rolls, Democrats netted 415,580 voters through September, compared to the Republican Party of Florida's 169,841. That's a difference of plus-245,739 for the Democrats.
    "By the numbers". And get this, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer,
    accuses Democrats of "signing up anybody who has a pulse".
    As opposed to who, Jimmy?: Anyone who has a yacht, a Beemer, a kid at Gulliver Prep, or ... you know, the rest of the RPOF base:

    image description

    "Grab your hoods and your pitch forks and we'll meet at the library for the book burning!"

    Florida's would-be "president of Cuba"

    Lincoln Diaz-Balart is

    facing the first real challenge to his seat from a populist Democrat who says today's voters are more worried about home foreclosures than Cuba policy, Diaz-Balart is campaigning aggressively and raising more money than ever.

    As of Aug. 6, he had raised $1.7 million, about a quarter of it from law firms, real-estate interests and political action committees with interests in foreign and defense policy, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group in Washington.

    Yet, even some Republicans in his district say Diaz-Balart remains a bit of a mystery.

    ''Most people don't know what it is he's been doing all the time he's been up there,'' said Robert Bueso, a Republican and treasurer of the East Kendall Homeowners Organization. "We do know his opinion on Cuba.''
    The acknowledged a mere "'niche player'": and "to his colleagues and constituents, he is known, first and foremost, for his crusade against Castro's Cuba.' Critics say little has changed nearly a decade later." Indeed,
    Diaz-Balart's focus has prompted accusations that, as the premier defender of U.S.-Cuba policy, he views his seat in Congress as a stepping stone to the job he really wants: president of Cuba.
    "House race: Diaz-Balart noted for stand on Cuba".

    M.T. go home

    "A wayward manatee is headed south after being pulled from frigid waters off Cape Cod in an early morning rescue." "Manatee headed to Fla. after Mass. rescue".


    "Headlines about Hillsborough Elections Supervisor Buddy Johnson that highlight troubles with property taxes, polling places and election returns have been useful for Phyllis Busansky, his re-election challenger." "Busansky waits for right time to attack Johnson".

    The corridor

    "The 132-mile interstate running from Tampa Bay to Daytona Beach cuts through fast-growing cities and neighborhoods flooded with new immigrants, through citrus farms, Disney and the birthplace of American stock car racing. It comprises 40 percent of the Florida's voting population, and also by far its most unpredictable voting bloc." "132 miles of potent political influence".

    Laff riot

    Dan Moffett apparently had to rush something out before his deadline:

    We like to fool ourselves that Florida is this progressive, modern state showing Americans the way into the new millennium.
    Other than Jeb-Dubya-Palin-McCain dead enders, and their media company lapdogs, has anyone fooled themselves - if for even a moment - into seriously believing that Florida is "progressive", "modern", and (most hilarious of all) capable of "showing Americans the way into the new millennium".

    Moffett readily concedes that, even the cheerleaders "know better" about any claim Florida may have to being "progressive" or "modern":
    - "For example, the state pulled off a major coup by getting The Scripps Research Institute to come to Palm Beach County and with it, a stream of brilliant scientists and beautiful minds. But before the new research campus had its sod laid, the Legislature passed a budget that forces the public schools to make deep cuts and universities to turn away students. Here comes Scripps - there goes education."

    - "The state that is home to NASA and figured mightily in putting a man on the moon is the same state that can't figure out how to count ballots after an election, after all."

    - "We finally start seeing progress cleaning up the Everglades, and then it's time to start pushing for more offshore drilling."

    - "Rising gas prices make Tri-Rail ridership soar, so government decides to cut its financing."
    It is hard to see how offering financial incentives to private enterprise (Scripps), serving as the background for a successful federal program (NASA), cleaning our soiled environment up a bit (the 'Glades), or tip-toeing into rudimentary mass transit (Tri-Rail) demonstrates that Florida is in any way "progressive" or even "modern", but Moffett's the man with the ink. Anyway, that was all a setup to Moffett's well taken comments on this:
    reformers have good reason to be worried about getting voters to pass Amendment 1 next month.

    The amendment would remove from the Florida Constitution a disgraceful provision leftover from the Jim Crow era known as the "alien land law." In 1926, Florida voters banned Asian immigrants from owning property. It was typical of about a dozen other discriminatory state laws of the period.

    But it is also typical that all the other states have repealed their alien land laws while Florida hasn't. Though no one has tried to enforce the law here in decades, it remains a hurtful anachronism.

    The Legislature should have removed the law long ago. In 2007, Sen. Steve Geller, D-Hallandale Beach, tried to have it struck down but was blocked by the Republican majority. Incredibly, Sen. Geller's opponents argued that the law might still be a useful tool in protecting the state against foreign incursions during these dangerous times.

    You know, if Asians buy land here, the terrorists win.
    "Time to evict Jim Crow".

    See 'ya at the tractor pull.

    McCain-Palin "Pre-election victory bash"

    "The Republican Party of Florida is so sure of a win for McCain here they've lined up an Oct. 18 pre-election victory bash for the McCain- Sarah Palin ticket at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando. The invite mentions a "special guest speaker." Crist and state GOP chairman Jim Greer will be there, along with congressional and state legislative leaders who might show up." "Is GOP too confident?"


    "Politically, he said, the smartest course of action for members of Congress was to vote against the bailout." "Young stands by his 'no' vote on bailout".

    Paper ballot mythbuster

    Randy Schultz, who never did like paper ballots, addresses as coupla "myths" about paper ballot voting. First:

    With paper ballots, if the race is real close, they just count all the ballots by hand and decide the winner, right? Wrong.

    Under state law, there's first a machine recount if the margin in any race is 0.5 percentage points or less - say, 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent. All the ballots are fed through special, high-speed counters in the elections office. These machines are different from the ones at early-voting sites and polling places. If, after the machines finish, the margin is 0.25 percentage points or less, there's a hand recount.

    So, that's when they look at all the ballots, right? Wrong.

    The high-speed machines are designed to separate out invalid ballots: those with more that one choice in a race (overvotes) and those with no choice (undervotes.) Only those ballots are counted by hand. There's your paper trail.

    Therefore, if John McCain and Barack Obama are separated by a recount-sized margin, there would be no arguing as there was in 2000 over which counties would hold a recount. All 67 counties would do a machine recount. That would make things easier. But if there had to be a hand recount, forget the idea of human eyes on every ballot.
    With touch screens, you could "vote" at numerous spots in each polling place. With optical scans, you can't vote until you put the ballot though the scanner. There will be lines waiting to cast ballots, and then lines waiting to insert the ballot. There will be no more than two scanners per precinct. Don't vote absentee; the error rate is much higher. But this may be a good year to vote early.
    "Not every paper ballot counted".

    Only Dem "moderates" and those "willing to buck" Dem Party orthodoxy need apply ...

    ... but right-wing GOPer bomb throwers remain welcome at the Zell corporation.

    It was not a hard call for the Zell Corporation to endorse Kosmas over Feeney, who has become a public relations nightmare for his patrons at the Orlando Sentinel.

    They explain:

    We've endorsed Mr. Feeney in each of his previous races for Congress, but he's never faced a challenger as capable as this year's, Democrat Suzanne Kosmas. Ms. Kosmas, a former four-term state House member, is a successful businesswoman with a mostly moderate campaign platform.
    "We think: Kosmas, Blythe, Putnam and Stearns would serve voters best".

    I see - no problem endorsing wingnut Feeney in the past, before he became a PR nightmare, particularly since Kosmas is "mostly moderate" (read: "safe"). On the other hand, the editors (or the accountants, or whoever makes these endorsements), think it is fine to send a useless, flame throwing wingnut like Republican Adam Putnam back to DC, particularly when - in a soon to be Dem DC - fools who are "regularly skewering Democratic leaders in national TV appearances" won't be particularly effective.

    To its credit, the Zell corporation did endorse Dem "Steve Blythe in the 15th Congressional District". However, the rationale is equally thin: Blythe "appears more capable than Mr. Posey, a state senator, of bucking party orthodoxy to pass legislation benefiting his entire constituency."

    None of this is any secret - the Zell Corporation is happy to endorse a Dem or two*, as long as they are "mostly moderate" and happy to "buck[ Democratic] party orthodoxy", but has no problem with right wing ideologues** like Putnam, Mica, Keller Brown-Waite, Stearns, Keller and, before he became an embarrassment, Feeney.

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *One suspects Putnam, Mica, Keller Brown-Waite, Stearns and Keller were not asked what they thought about these Congressional Hearings convened by Senator Bernie Sanders: "HELP Committee Hearing - Immokalee Tomato Farmers -- 04/15/2008".

    More: "four senators, including Sanders, U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Springfield (Ill.); Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., have signed a letter urging Burger King Corp. and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange to improve wages similar to the ones agreed upon by other fast-food chains." "Federal lawmaker comes to Immokalee to support farmworkers".

    Background: "Modern-Day Slavery", "Florida remains a slave state", "Sheriff: There is slavery in Florida tomato fields", "Farmworkers exploited, even enslaved, in Florida" and "Slavery Update".

    **The liberal - we hate oil drilling - Zell Corporation editors apparently have no qualms about overlooking the GOPer flip-floppery on the drilling issue.

    Never mind the hypocrisy

    The Miami Herald editorial board writes that "Mr. Bovo supports a constitutional ban on gay marriage, a position with which this board strongly disagrees. Yet in the same breath he says that he does not support any form of discrimination." After noting this gross hypocrisy, the editors give us these words: "The Miami Herald recommends ESTEBAN ''STEVE'' BOVO." And they throw in another right winger for good measure: "For House District 111 The Miami Herald recommends Erik Fresen".

    More: "For Florida House District 107 The Miami Herald recommends Luis Garcia" and "For Florida House District 112 The Miami Herald recommends David Rivera".

    Who writes these headlines anyway?

    "A poll by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund finds that while Barack Obama overwhelmingly leads McCain in other states with big Hispanic populations — Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada — Florida Hispanics are closely split, with 38 percent backing McCain and 35 percent backing Obama."

    The headline to the above passage, "Hispanics snub Obama", is ... well, a bit off the mark. After all, "the numbers in NV, CO, NM, and even FL are well above the 2004 levels of support that Bush received." See "NEW POLLS: NM, NV, CO, FL, Hispanics Crushing McCain".

    'Ya think?

    The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "No on Amendment 2".

    That's sum real rich pigs

    Palin's "appearances in Boca Raton and Naples brought in $1.5-million apiece and a Jacksonville stop netted an estimated $1.2-million, according to Brian Ballard, co-chairman of John McCain's national finance team." "Palin piles up cash for McCain".

    Must be balanced

    Why do local newspaper company employees find the need to travel to other states and write less than insightful tripe like this?: In Democratic stronghold, a reluctant tilt to Obama".

    SD 25

    "Jeff Atwater faces Linda Bird for Florida Senate District 25 seat".

    Latino Protestants

    "With election day drawing near, the Rev. Manny Torres has a dilemma."

    Torres, pastor of Primera Bautista Iglesia Voz de Salvacion, a bilingual Southern Baptist church in Lakeland, is a Latino Protestant, one of a few religious groups that might hold the key to the election.

    "My heart is pointing more to Obama. My church feels the same way," he said. "We're paying so much taxes. And the economy, all these bad loans. People are losing their property. People are disappointed they voted for Bush. He knew the economy was falling apart."
    "A Few Key Religious Groups May Affect Outcome of Election".


    "A senior deputy elections supervisor "

    in Orange said her office has had problems with "hundreds" of ACORN-submitted forms, and Seminole's Michael Ertel said his office had received about 100 applications with non-matching Social Security numbers. But both seemed to attribute the problems more to sloppiness than intent to defraud.
    "Aaron Deslatte: ACORN's voter signups bother McCain, but not Crist". More on this Ertel person here: "Beating the Bushes for a Supervisor of Elections".

    "The vision I get"

    St. Petersburg Times columnist Ernest Hooper: "Imagine a black man standing on a yacht and pulling up the rope ladder after climbing aboard, even though more people are down in the water. That's the vision I get whenever I hear black people, especially black ministers, promoting Amendment 2, the state's proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage." "Blacks and Amendment 2".

    St. John

    "The head of Florida's environmental agency announced a plan for Northeast Florida's cities and utilities to spend more than $600 million helping the St. Johns River." "NE Fla. cities, utilities to help St. Johns River".

    Good luck

    "Scientists trying to save Florida's diminishing coral reefs are using new approaches to help damaged reefs recover and survive a changing climate." "Researchers work to revitalize Florida's coral reefs".

    SOE race

    "The race for Hernando County supervisor of elections comes down to whether, after eight years, the status quo is working to a voter's liking, or it is time for a change. ... Williams, a Democrat, began her career in the elections office as a 17-year-old clerk, and over the years moved through the ranks to the position of assistant supervisor before she won election to the office in 2000. During her eight-year tenure, the number of people on the voter rolls in Hernando has risen nearly 24 percent as the county has grown." "Three with similar goals jostle for Hernando elections post".

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